Stem cell based therapies for the repair and regeneration of various tissues and organs offer a paradigm shift that may provide alternative therapeutic solutions for a number of diseases. This review focuses on skeletal muscle regeneration and repair by adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs) with particular attention to their potential use as a therapy for disorders such as degenerative muscle diseases or skeletal muscle injuries. ASCs can differentiate into skeletal muscle cells in vitro either in co-culture with skeletal myoblasts, or when cultured in medium supplemented with horse serum and/or under reduced serum conditions. In particular, spontaneous fusion of ASCs and subsequent myotube-like formation was observed in early culture passages at high cell density. ASCs have also shown a capacity for myogenic differentiation in vivo. In a murine muscular dystrophy model, ASCs were able to restore muscle function following direct injection into the affected muscle as well as following intravenous systemic administration. Of great importance is the finding that allogeneic ASCs injected into the damaged muscle were not rejected, even without immunosuppressive therapy. Because human adipose tissue is ubiquitous and easily obtainable in large quantities under local anesthesia with little patient discomfort, it presents an appealing source of stem cells for mesenchymal tissue regeneration and engineering.
Keywords: Adipose-derived stem cells, skeletal muscle, myogenic differentiation, duchenne muscular dystrophy, regenerative medicine, satellite cells
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